LAURINBURG — Though their kicks may not be high and a split only has the chance of happening after a long stretching session, the Scotland Athletic Seniors, all above the age of 60, have enough spirit to shame any high school cheerleader.
The team of Evelyn Allen, Atleen Rush, Donna Dickerson, Brenda Thompson, Arletha Brown, Gay McCormick and Estella Hayes, as coach Alicia Krout says, lives up to the phoenetic pronunciation of its three-letter moniker: SAS.
So much so, they often impress 15-year-old assistant coach Alaina Atkins, whom Krout recruited from the junior varsity cheerleading team she coaches at Scotland High School.
“They’ve all shown me that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can be a cheerleader if you love it,” Atkins said.
Operating under the “Silver Arts” division of the Scotland County Senior Games, the team has been together since 2009 and Krout, a “lifelong cheerleader,” who also works as a portrait and event photographer, has led the group for all but one year. It’s a volunteer position, but not one without rewards.
“It’s inspiring to me,” Krout says. “I’m inspired every day I come.”
Allen, a 69-year-old who got her start cheerleading in high school, says Krout returns the favor by refusing to go easy on them.
“She’s not afraid to tell us if we’re doing it wrong and that’s what we love about her,” she said. “She’ll critique us and that’s what we like. If you don’t tell us, then we don’t know what to do when we go up there and compete.”
In 2009, the team came in first place in their division, which is ranked by size, and placed bronze overall. The event’s toughest competition, the Durham Senior Divas and Dudes, took last year’s top prize, but the Scotland Active Seniors aren’t jealous; for many, the chance to perform on stage is just an added bonus to a hobby that helps them stay active, maintain close relationships — and don a cute uniform.
“It’s good to know at our age that we can do this,” Rush said. “It makes you feel young.”
Though their numbers have waned as some moved away or became less nimble, the team has forged close bonds.
“We became a family,” Allen said.
This year, the team is hoping to add more women — and hopefully some men — to its numbers before the April 17 deadline to register for the Senior Games.
“These are sassy ladies, but they have dropped the age to 50 so we’re looking for anyone who still has some pep in their step,” Krout said with a grin.
For information on the cheerleading program, call Krout at 910-217-0784 or Allen at 301-655-9423.
Among activities offered through the county program are croquet, cornhole, billiards, shuffleboard, bowling, horseshoes, table tennis, golf, chair volleyball and water polo. Arts events include basket weaving, jewelry making, pottery, quilting, woodworking and dance.
The entry fee for all events is $10 and includes a Senior Games T-shirt and a banquet held on May 8.
For information on the Senior Games call Kisha Williams, the county’s senior games coordinator, at 910-369-0686.
Abbi Overfelt can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 12. Follow her on Twitter @aoinscotco.